Must Corporations or Associations Be Represented by An Attorney ?
In Reed v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 789 S.W.2d 19 (Mo. 1990), the Missouri Supreme Court, en banc, held that the submission of an application for review and letter briefs to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) by a non-attorney, local personnel employee of K-Mart constituted the unauthorized practice of law.
The Commission's regulation specifically provided that "Any individual may appear for him/herself in any unemployment compensation hearing" and that "no one who is not an attorney may appear in a representative capacity." 8 C.S.R. 20-4(8).
The Court held from that date forward, (with the exception of cases pending before the Commission), all corporate employers must act by and through licensed Missouri attorneys in all future proceedings before the Commission.
The Court reasoned:
The Court reads the regulation as consistent with recognized law that a corporation may not appeal except through an attorney in legal proceedings.
The regulation recognizes that individuals and partnerships may appear for themselves but, because they are an artificial entity, corporations or associations must be represented by an attorney. Clark v. Austin, 340 Mo. 467, 101 S.W.2d 977 at 982.
However the Commission may have interpreted the statutes or regulation in the past, the Court now holds that allowing a non-attorney corporate employee to file an application for review with the Commission is the unauthorized practice of law.
The right to conduct business in corporate form also includes the obligations to do so in a lawful manner. Reed, 789 S.W.2d at 23.
See also Anamax Mining Company v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, 147 Ariz. 482, 711 P.2d. 621 (1985) (a corporate employer could not be represented by the employer's labor relations administrator, who was not a duly authorized agent working under the supervision of an attorney in an unemployment compensation matter before the Unemployment Compensation Insurance Appeals Board of the Department of Economic Security).